When many people decide to seek a web designer or agency they are naturally concerned with how their finished website will look. They either don’t realise there’s more to creating an effective website or they tend to trust the web designer to handle the additional and often less exciting details.
When it comes to great design, although incredibly important, how a website looks is just the tip of the iceberg compared to the other bases you need to cover. If you are working with a low budget it’s important to understand what compromises the designer is making to deliver your website. Whether it’s through ignorance or laziness, you don’t want to neglect these areas if you want a maximum return on your investment.
So which areas should you never miss in a website design project?
Search engine optimisation
SEO can be complicated business. The one thing you have control over when just starting out is your website and there are a number of best practices that you can follow to ensure the finished site is search engine friendly. As well as making sure the web designer you hired does thorough keyword research and optimises your content for these, you should also ensure they follow some key best practices. These include embedding a Google map, having an SEO friendly page structure, adding alt tags to all images and more. Unfortunately a cheap website designer will normally neglect SEO so that they can deliver on budget and this makes it harder to rank in search results.
A slow load speed impacts your visitors experience, loses you sales and detrimentally impacts where you appear in search results. There are a number of tools you can use online to determine how well your website is doing in this area (like PingDom Page Speed). If you or your website designer does not do any work to improve your load speed (like compressing images and configuring cache) then your website will not provide the results you need.
If you or your designer is using a platform like WordPress then you will already benefit from thousands of open source developers keeping your website secure. This said, the popularity of these platforms brings malicious individuals that regularly try and gain access to your website. There are many free plugins out there (like this one) that you can configure to protect your website so there really isn’t any excuse for your web designer to miss this step. However we regularly come across websites without the most basic protection against hackers.
If the worst happens and your defences fail, it can be really time consuming and tricky to find where a hacker has gained entry and where they have hidden any code. It’s much simpler to revert to a backup before the intrusion happened. Again, websites are regularly not set up to backup files and the database despite there being lots of really great free solutions (like this one).
It makes it a lot more difficult to understand what value your website is bringing your business (and if necessary how to improve it) when you have no data to analyse. Your website should be configured to record website traffic using Google Analytics or similar software. This means you can determine how people are using your website, how many visitors become customers and more. Your digital marketing efforts will then need to be built upon this knowledge and therefore this step is essential.
An SSL certificate provides a level of protection of your website data and if a website has one you’ll see something like “Secure” in the top left of your website browser window. An SSL certificate is best practice when it comes to security as well as carrying many other benefits. An SSL certificate also builds trust with customers and improves your search visibility in search engines so it’s important to ensure that you or your website developer installs one.
It’s 2018 and for a long time every new website built has been mobile responsive. Previously, a company would design two or three versions of their website, and show these to visitors depending on what device they were using. Now-a-days websites are built to be responsive – 1 website can automatically move and resize elements so that they fit according to screen size.
For this reason you need to ensure your website remains looking good on any device – this means extensive little tweaks and lots of testing. Even if your website uses a responsive theme, you or your website designer need to check that this works effectively down to the smallest of devices. If your website does not scale well, at best some elements will look unprofessional and at worst may make your site unusable.
Like us, you’re probably sick of hearing about the GDPR by now. As relentless as it has been, the GDPR has had an impact on how websites are designed and the responsibilities that you have around the collection and management of data. No longer is it enough to slap a cookie notice at the bottom of your website and forget about it. Now it is even more important to give sufficient thought around how you will comply with new regulations.
We don’t believe in compromising any aspect of our website design process and therefore cover all of these areas as standard in any website development project. You can learn a little more about us by clicking here. As always, if you have any questions, we’ll be happy to answer them!